Myanmar's junta frees hundreds of prisoners; silent strike in Yangon

WION Web Team
Yangon, Myanmar Published: Mar 24, 2021, 11:41 AM(IST)

Anti-coup protests in Myanmar Photograph:( AFP )

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The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners activist group says at least 2,000 people have been arrested in the military crackdown on the protests against the February 1 coup.

Myanmar has freed more than 600 people -- who had been arrested for protesting against last month's military coup. Several buses full of prisoners drove out of Insein prison in the morning, media reports said.

"All the released are the ones arrested due to the protests, as well as night arrests or those who were out to buy something," said a member of a legal advisory group who said he saw the buses leaving.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners activist group says at least 2,000 people have been arrested in the military crackdown on the protests against the February 1 coup.

"We released 360 men and 268 women from Insein prison today," a senior official from the jail told AFP.

Local media showed images of the prisoners on the buses flashing the three-fingered salute -- a sign of resistance for the anti-coup movement -- as people waiting outside the prison waved at them and returned the gesture. 

Meanwhile, Myanmar activists have planned for more anti-coup protests on Wednesday, including a silent strike with many businesses due to close and calls for people to stay home. Pro-democracy protesters also held more candle-lit vigils overnight including in a district of the commercial capital Yangon and in Thahton in Mon State.

The vigils came after staff at a funeral service in Mandalay told Reuters on Tuesday that a seven-year-old girl had died of bullet wounds in the city - the youngest victim so far in a bloody crackdown of opposition to the February 1 coup.

Also read | US blacklists Myanmar police chief, army units over deadly crackdown

Soldiers shot at her father but hit the girl who was sitting on his lap inside their home, her sister told the Myanmar Now media outlet. Two men were also killed in the district, it said.

Social media posts and media indicated a range of businesses from ride hailers to pharmacies planned to close. The junta has faced international condemnation for staging the coup that halted Myanmar`s slow transition to democracy and for its lethal suppression of the protests that followed.

Junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun said on Tuesday 164 protesters had been killed and expressed sadness at the deaths, a day after the European Union and the United States imposed more sanctions on groups or individuals linked to the coup.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) activist group says at least 275 people have been killed in the security forces' crackdown.
Zaw Min Tun blamed the bloodshed on the protesters and said nine members of the security forces had been also killed.

He said strikes and hospitals not fully operating had caused deaths, including from COVID-19, calling them "undutiful and unethical".

Also read | Myanmar protesters defiant as two more killed, pressure on junta grows

Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her campaign to bring democratic civilian rule to Myanmar, has been in detention since the coup and faces charges that her lawyer says have been cooked up to discredit her.

The 75-year-old Nobel laureate was due to have a court hearing on Wednesday in Myanmar's capital Naypyidaw, on criminal charges that could see her permanently barred from political office.

But her lawyer Khin Maung Zaw said the hearing was adjourned until April 1 because of problems with video conferencing caused by a junta-imposed internet shutdown.

 

(with inputs from agencies)

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